What Men Need To Know About Their Sexual Health As They Age, According To Dr. Justin Houman - Exclusive

Talking openly about sexual health is understandably not the most comfortable experience for many people. Men, especially, tend to remain quiet on the topic. However, sexual health can change depending on our various life stages, age, lifestyle factors, and more. In this exclusive interview with Justin Houman, MD, and Director of Men's Health at Tower Urology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he discusses the various ways men can take steps to ensure good sexual health for life, a field of study he's extremely passionate about.

"I've seen many of my friends and patients struggle with sexual dysfunction and fertility issues. The impact this has on men's quality of life is so significant. Helping somebody through their sexual health issues or reproductive issues can really change their life for the better," Dr. Houman says. He's found it very gratifying to help men on their journey. 

Common challenges for men when it comes to sexual health

Dr. Houman says that getting men to discuss their sexual health is the biggest challenge, particularly when it comes to fertility issues and erectile dysfunction. This may be due to looming cultural taboos which can keep men from openly discussing certain issues with their doctors. 

But Dr. Houman suggests these issues are often early warning signs that signal something deeper may be going on. He states, "It's important to get these issues assessed as soon as you start to experience them. When sexual health problems arise, it is similar to when the 'check engine light' goes off, as it is usually the first sign of an underlying health issue. Whether it is diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, stress, or low testosterone — it is always better to address these problems earlier rather than later, before they become chronic medical conditions."

What commonly brings men into Dr. Houman's office is the first experience of erectile dysfunction, which may feel very troublesome. However, he suggests strong erections don't always happen for everyone all the time. If a form of erectile dysfunction is impacting your life negatively, that's when it may be time to seek a medical opinion. "[If] it is impacting your relationship with your partner or your relationship with yourself (poor confidence, anxiety, lower self-esteem), it's important to be evaluated by a medical professional," he says.

And if you're wondering what to expect, Dr. Houman tells us, "The work up typically includes a discussion about your lifestyle, a physical exam, and blood work to assess your cholesterol, blood sugar, and hormone levels."

How modern life affects men's sexual health and how to counter it

Dr. Houman tells us that modern-day life has huge impacts on men's sexual health. Factors like sitting for work for eight hours or more a day, limited exercise, and increased obesity rates, affect not only men's cardiovascular health but their hormonal health as well. But the good news is that you have the power to make healthier choices, and it all starts with nutrition, sleep, and movement.

Dr. Houman says it can help to change your relationship with food and be mindful about what you put on your plate. Ideally, your plate should look like "60% veggies with no added oils or sugary sauces, including broccoli, green beans, Bok Choi, and kale. 30% should be lean protein like chicken, turkey, fish, or pork chop. 10% should be complex carbs, including whole grain pasta or wheat bread, wild rice, and quinoa. Stay away from fast food, sugar, and processed foods," he states. In addition to bolstering meal-time nutrition, it's important to get at least seven hours of sleep per night and a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise per day.

The benefits of sex and how to have great sex for life

Maintaining optimal sexual health goes beyond simply supporting a healthy sex life. "Regular intercourse has numerous benefits including improving your immunity, lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress, improving your cardiovascular health, improving sleep, improving testosterone levels, and improving overall well-being and self-confidence," Dr. Houman explained.

And a healthy sex life doesn't have to decline with age. Dr. Houman says, "Although there are changes that occur as men age, our sex lives don't have to. If you are doing the necessary lifestyle modifications to maintain great overall health, sex through your 20's to 60's should not change." He continued by stating, "Eating better, sleeping more, and exercising more all help maintain good cardiovascular health, which is good for erectile function. These lifestyle changes also contribute to good hormonal health, which is good not just for erectile dysfunction but also for your libido and sex drive."

So, whether you're in your 20s, 60s, or somewhere in between, if you're experiencing a sexual health issue, know that you are not alone and that there are actions you can take. You have the power to make healthy lifestyle changes and you can talk to experienced and compassionate medical professionals like Dr. Houman, who are ready to help.

To connect with Dr. Houman, you can find him on Instagram: @Justin.Houman.MD, Twitter: @JustinHoumanMD, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jhouman, TikTok: @justin.houman.md, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LAMensHealth/, or his Website: https://houmanmd.com/ or https://www.towerurology.com/our-physicians/justin-houman-md/